House Republicans Have No Plan on ACA, Await Trump’s Marching Orders

By: Tony Rivera

A day ahead of President Trump’s joint address to Congress, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stepped out of the West Wing and boldly predicted that Tuesday Donald Trump will come out and advance a “positive” and “upbeat” message to the country. Props to them for blissfully ignoring (or harmfully repressing) memories of Trump’s well-documented difficulty in pulling this off when giving prepared remarks.

And, yes, front and center will be Trump’s vision for a Republican plan to “repeal and replace” the ACA.

And not a moment too soon! After all, the past eight days alone are chalk-full of examples illustrating how incoherent the Republican’s handling of ACA has been:


  • First—and most importantly—Republicans across the country heard loud and clear from thousands of their constituents that they reject ripping apart the ACA without a replacement plan. In town halls, public rallies, and evening vigils, Americans sent a loud message to vulnerable House Republicans that they are now playing with live rounds and should think twice about gutting healthcare for millions of Americans.


  • Then there was Gov. John Kasich, who arrived in DC on Friday to channel the growing anxieties of Republicans from states that rely on the ACA’s Medicaid expansions. Kasich echoed what the rest of the country already knew, saying repealing Medicaid expansions was a “very, very bad idea.” Smart guy!


  • A day later, consulting firms Avalere Health and McKinsey and Co. presented to state governors an analysis of what would happen should Republicans adopt an ACA overhaul in the vein of the disaster masquerading as a “plan” leaked by leadership on Friday—including reversal of the Medicaid expansion, income-based tax credits, and bolstering HSAs. Their findings? Millions could lose coverage.


  • Not to be outdone, members of the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee came right back opposing a leaked working draft of a “repeal and replace” bill, reminded the world that they’ll reject anything short of the most radical versions of a repeal, harkening back to widely unpopular plans from 2015.


  • Of course, there was also former Speaker John Boehner, who went absolutely YOLO in Orlando last Thursday saying Republican plans for “repeal and replace” were delusional.


So this is all one giant mess. Luckily for Paul Ryan and Republican leaders, President Donald Trump gets his chance to rally the troops and hand down the marching orders they’ve long been waiting for. Sure, he might not provide any details, and sure, he might change his mind in a week. But just like he bullied his way to the White House, Trump can continue furthering his grip on the Republican Party, signaling “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” on a plan that doesn’t exist and whose consequences are dangerously unclear.